Tour de Zwift 2022 Stage 2: Long Ride

Oooooh, now this one has taken it out of me, and no mistake.

Yes, I had in mind I might do the 9am ride. Hah. Even though I woke up at 8am prompt, I had the general feeling of anxiety about the effort ahead that only two hours could stand any chance of calming. Plenty of time for a nice cup of java, two slices of toast with butter and Nutella, time to get appropriately dressed and prepared…

Somehow though, those two hours slithered away like Voldemorte’s snake, and before I knew it I had less than two minutes before the ride left the pens, and I still hadn’t sorted out the speaker situation. Sure, I had my tunes on full whack, but sound only coming out of the right speaker… anyway, luck would have it, a bit of uninformed jostling and the sound kicked back in, and just as I managed to clip in, away we went.

Sunday morning rides, for me, should be fairly chilled out. A bit of a reward (or something) for a week’s hard work well done.

Not so today.

The last time I did the Alpe du Zwift just so happens to be about a year ago, during the last Tour de Zwift. Now, I don’t feel good about this. Actually, I feel pretty crappy about it. No wonder 2021 wasn’t such a performant year.

However, I did set myself the target of doing many more harder climbs, so getting stuck into this one wasn’t just about seeing through Stage 2.

Going into this one I had the idea in mind of hitting 235w per corner, on average.

By and large, I did manage this.

There were a few – I think the shorter segments – where I dropped into the 220s, and I think a couple – not many – where pulled back into the 240s. All in all, I think it kinda averaged out. It must have done.

Amazingly, I actually felt decent for most of this.

Somehow, the time seemed to pass by fairly quickly, all things considered.

I remember around corner 6 I decided to treat myself to a Harribo jelly teddy, and by putting it under my tongue and not chewing it, I was able to keep it’s succulent sugary loveliness going for over two corners. Amazing.

That’s the kind of thing that keeps me going on a ride like this.

Obviously as things progressed they inevitably got tougher. My heart rate, hovering around the low 180s for most of the climb starting creeping higher and higher on those final 5 corners.

Resisting getting out of the saddle – at all – during the ride was intentional. I knew if I stood up, the exertion, combined with the tougher short effort would contribute to a spike in heart rate that I wouldn’t be able to recover from without taking a significant and prolonged rest. That would screw up my rythm, so the whole thing had to be done seated. Which was fun.

Anyway, aside from that first corner, corner 6 – the long one – and the final unmarked effort – I didn’t find it quite as bad as I expected today. In fact, I was quite surprised how quickly it all seemed to be over and done with.

Hitting the top, I forgot to click the physical lap timer button on the Garmin, so didn’t really have any accurate stats immediately on hand.

All I knew was I’d done a 55:02, which I was really chuffed with. And I got the gloves… again.

For the whole ride I managed 1h 22m 9s, which felt decent. I’d definitely taken it fairly easy on the lead in to the Alpe, so was amazed later on when I saw the stats on Strava that showed, pretty much, I’d PR’d every single segment of the ride.

I knew it had been a decent ride, simply because I’d kept to that ~235w average for each corner, but I didn’t expect quite that good.

Truthfully though, it absolutely thrashed me.

After the ride I grabbed a shower, a cup of tea, and hit the bed.

No sleep, of course. I have kids. But my word, I didn’t do much else all day.

In fact, it’s taken me all day to get around to writing this post. I treated myself to a meal out – so all the calories off are now back on – and I have no regrets. Not in it for the weight loss.

So yeah… overall, super pleased with myself for the performance today. Thought I might have overcooked the recovery ride yesterday, but seemingly not so.

Do I regret not getting out for a Sunday morning outdoor ride?

Yeah, in a way.

It’s nice to have a ride like this to force me well out of my obvious comfort zone. But it also gives me the opportunity to prove to myself how far I’ve come.

About the only downside is now I will feel like next time I have to do a sub 55m climb or I will have let myself down. Stupid really.

To be honest, it would be better to keep doing ~55m efforts for a while, just to build up that base fitness. At the end of the day, it’s a bit like a constantly on SST session, as in always pushing without the ‘slight’ break intervals.

But boy, I’m thrashed. Off to lie down. I’ll sleep tonight, no doubt in my mind.

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